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The Price of “Free” Electronics Recycling

To understand the potential for damages, it’s first valuable to remember why electronics need to be recycled, not simply thrown away. In a nutshell, electronic equipment often contains dangerous toxins that can leach out in a landfill, endangering water supplies and the environment. These toxins – including lead, mercury, cadmium, and beryllium – are known to cause damage to the human body, even in low doses, so their entry into the water supply could be catastrophic.

So, why would a for-profit company offering “free” electronics recycling want to take on your e-waste issue? It works like this. Recyclers ship huge quantities of used electronics at a very low cost to countries like China or Malaysia, where they will be deconstructed to pull out valuable materials inside – at low wages and under unregulated, dangerous conditions. So, even without collecting fees from the owners (you), these companies can make a profit based on the volume of the high-value elements extracted from your old electronics. read more